From escaping abusive parents to not knowing when their next meal will be, many children are in need of support. The Phoenix-based Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development has combined resources with Valley Metro, providing support 24 hours a day for children 17 and younger through the national outreach program called “Safe Place.”
Safe Place already allows children to seek help at local libraries, convenience stores and banks. As of earlier this month, the option to call for help at any of the 28 light rail stations from Phoenix to Mesa is also available.
In a Valley Metro press release, Valley Metro Chief Executive Officer Steve Banta said, “As a community partner, Valley Metro supports the Safe Place safety net that can positively impact a troubled teen’s life.”
A press conference was held announcing the program Sept. 18 with elected officials from Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa in attendance.
City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton thanked Tumbleweed for its service to children and supports Safe Place being implemented at the light rail stations. Stanton wants children to know that “there is a safe place” for them.
“There are no “throw away” kids,” he said.
After a teen goes to a Safe Place location such as any light rail station, they are taken to a Tumbleweed location, which provides necessities such as: shelters, beds, counseling and any other resources a child in crisis may need.
This is only the second light rail system in the country to put in a system such as Safe Place. City of Phoenix councilmember Thelda Williams said she “hopes it serves as a model for other systems in the country.”
Williams added that the goal is to help young people in the local communities, and she urges the public to inform children of this new addition to the light rail stations.
A trip with his son on the light rail gave Mesa councilman Dave Richins the confidence the light rail stations would serve as a good, safe place for children.
Richins reflected on how at ease his son was when riding the light rail and he said this program would be a “game changer for the teens in this generation.”
Safe Place and Valley Metro teamed up to provide easy steps for teens to follow:
Step 1: Go to the nearest light rail station.
Step 2: Locate the emergency call box at the station.
Step 3: Press the call box button and tell the operator you need Safe Place assistance.
Step 4: Follow all instructions until a Valley metro Supervisor or Safe Place responder arrives.
Valley Metro Supervisors and Safe Place dispatch are prepared for emergency calls and the program is in full swing as of Sept. 18, according to Susan Tierney, Communications Manager with Valley Metro.